Crashing to earth?
Exodus 22-24 was quite heavy going today. After the sweeping universals of the 10 commandments, it feels like we’re getting bogged down straight away in laws and regulations for a society which won’t exist until many years after Moses, and which no longer exists for most of us.
It doesn’t help that the big principles of justice for all, and of goodwill even towards enemies, are tangled up with regulations for compensation in different categories of livestock theft.
And then, to top it off, we have the making of the Covenant and the elders’ vision of God in his glory.
Surely it would make much better sense to tell us about the commandments, then the Covenant, and only then get in to the particular and seemingly haphazard detail of how to apply it all. But perhaps there is a reason for it being written the way it is. For if our faith matters at all, it’s no good for it just to matter in the big universals. It’s when those principles by which we are called to live take shape in the details of how we order our lives, our behaviours and our relationships, that faith becomes real.
God is just as interested in what happens in our fields and factories, our homes and our law-courts, as in what happens in synagogue or church. He looks to see the whole of life lived well, not just the holy bits.
After all, how have the commandments affected my decisions and actions today? I haven’t murdered or stolen from anyone. But have I defended and provided for the vulnerable and poor? Not as much as I’d like to. We often think and speak as though a life going beyond the commandments was a Christian invention. But here we see how quickly God take us from the law of ‘you shall not’ to how we should do things – and still as a response to his love and action for us.
Always as a response to his love and action for us.